Brunswick Drops Open Source, Picks Up Development Speed

Recreational bowling centers have morphed from smoky old hangouts to state-of-the-art family entertainment centers. The transformation is continuous as centers work to strike the perfect balance between meeting the needs of loyal customers that live for weekly league play to attracting new patrons that crave a modern experience.

Brunswick Bowling dominates the industry when it comes to bowling products, services and industry expertise for the development and renovation of bowling centers. It wasn’t until meeting the IT team at Brunswick that I understood just how complex their business is.

Dozens of project changes need to be recorded and accessible by multiple departments

“There’s a lot that goes into building a bowling center, and it comes down to every nut, bolt and screw that has to be planned to make a bowling center operational and successful,” said Trevor Collins, Brunswick Project Manager.

Brunswick helps customers select the ideal location, and based on the demographics of that area, will recommend a variety of business models ranging from family entertainment centers to sleek, boutique-style centers.

“After location selection, we’ll start narrowing down what equipment makes the best sense for the customer. This goes from pin setters to lanes to computerized scoring systems,” said Collins.

The date from site selection to the grand opening is anywhere from one to three years. And over the course of this timeframe, many details of the project changes within Brunswick’s core business operations application that multiple departments access.

Open source technology can be like the Wild West

Keith Arteaga, Brunswick IT Manager

“The application is widely used by field and sales workers and had become outdated and unsupportable,” said Keith Arteaga, Brunswick IT Manager. “It was time to replace our 15-year-old Visual Basic 6 application.”

Brunswick journeyed down the open source path, selecting an extended JavaScript IDE. After months into the project, Arteaga was concerned about manageability.

“There were no boundaries in the development environment and the split environment was a dramatic departure from how we were used to developing for our ERP. We spent a lot of time jumping between environments, and there was a lack of standards – it seemed like the Wild West – too many ways to do one function.”

Craig Sturtevant, Brunswick IT Analyst and lead developer on the project added, “We spent 30-40% writing the infrastructure code to make the system work. Some of our code was on one side of the fence where we were comfortable, and the rest was in the wild.”

Slipping behind schedule, Arteaga searched the marketplace for a solution to enable his team to collaborate, innovate and integrate their existing systems and databases from a single platform.

Why move to a single development environment?

“LANSA appeared in web searches and showed experienced in the areas that we already have capability and infrastructure. We pursued getting a demo to learn about their product, business model and what they could do for us.”

Brunswick’s project requirements included a platform that:

  • could simplify and unify the front-end and back-end development processes.
  • would support the integration of multiple systems and databases.
  • is fully supported by a community of developers.
  • includes a framework to use for new development projects.
  • is web-enabled and makes it easy to extend applications to mobile devices.

“When we saw LANSA for the first time, we quickly realized the efficiency could be that could be gained. The architecture of the development environment and the code generation that the platform takes care of would allow us to more quickly get to the parts of our application that added value to the users versus being consumed with the basics of reading data or building lists or drop-down boxes of those processes,” said Arteaga.

In just three weeks and using a combination of LANSA support, chat rooms and training materials, Brunswick was able to develop applications that could be put out into production. As a result, Sturtevant said the speed of development increased by 30% and the overall ease of development dramatically improved.

Users are happy about the change too. Collins said, “One thing that I’ve noticed that is a huge improvement with the system is I am constantly giving input to our IT department to make improvements and changes. Oftentimes in the past, those would take months or years to implement. Today, it can be as quickly as a day to turn around for an idea for process improvement, which is very valuable for our entire business.”

“This has been exciting for us. At Brunswick Bowling Products, we’ve adapted to the world over time. We’ve been in business for a long time. Our systems need to have the same level of longevity and flexibility that our business has had for over 100 years,” said Arteaga.

To learn more about Brunswick’s story, read the full case study here.

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